The Search for a Great Teacher

A plea from one of Monette’s students (courtesy of Facebook)

Great teachers are hard to find.

Although education is extremely important and we constantly hear how America keeps falling behind the rest of the world, this remains one of the most unappreciated—and underpaid—careers in our great nation. We all seem to agree that America needs more great teachers, but it’s hard to attract people to these positions given all the challenges they face.

And dealing with today’s students is only half the battle.

Fortunately, there are some great teachers out there whose passion drives them more than their personal or financial needs. One such educator was 26-year-old Terrilynn Monette, a second grade teacher at Woodland West Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Monette came to New Orleans through the “teachNOLA” program, which sends teachers to impoverished areas. In her first year at Woodland, she turned one of the lowest-achieving classes into one of the highest ones. And according to school officials, Monette excelled at her job because she truly loved what she was doing.

“She is wonderful, she is vibrant. She is determined. She holds her students to the highest of expectations,” Principal Amy Hoyle said recently of her star teacher. “She is very loving with her students. They are a family.”

In honor of her efforts, Monette was recently nominated for “Teacher of the Year” in her district. On March 2nd, she and some friends went out on the town to celebrate her nomination and landed at Parlay’s, a bar in the Lakeview area. They drank, had some laughs and eventually parted ways later that night. Since Monette was intoxicated enough for the bartender to cut her off, she told her friends she would sleep in her car until she was sober enough to drive.

That was the last time Monette was seen. And that was almost two weeks ago.

Terrilynn Monette, missing candidate for “Teacher of the Year” (courtesy of Examiner.com)

Police, family members and hundreds of volunteers have been scouring the New Orleans area for any signs of Monette or her missing 2012 Honda Accord, but have found nothing. They have no suspects, continue to investigate tips and other leads, and even dredged a nearby bayou in case she crashed and drowned there, but still nothing has panned out.

No one knows where Monette is or what happened to her. And at this point, there’s a chance that no one will ever know. Disappearing from the face of the earth is not congruent with her usual behavior, especially since she just became an aunt.

“Terrilyn was supposed to be the baby’s godmother,” her own mother Toni Enclade said. “I know she wouldn’t have just left on her own like that.”

Enclade believes that someone has taken her daughter against her will and continues to pray for her safe return, but it’s not looking good. Given that most missing persons are found within the first 24-48 hours, the odds certainly don’t favor Monette. All we can do in the meantime is keep waiting and hoping, I guess.

Great teachers are hard to find. And in the case of Terrilynn Monette, this adage takes on a much more literal meaning. I hope they find her soon. And I hope she’s alive and well so she can return to the one place where her talents and passions are most appreciated: the classroom.

Posted on March 14, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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